2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 16th July 2020

Table 1: Farmlet average pasture cover and growth rates from farm walk 16/07/2020

Pasture Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Average pasture cover (plate meter kg DM/ha) 2342 2143 2292 2285
Average growth rate (kg DM/day) 5 4 8 5

Table 2: Key Numbers 16/07/2020

Soil temp (C) 5.4
Rainfall (mm) 7.2
Dry cow allocation Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Kg DM/cow/day 11.3 + 3 9.7 + 3

Key Decisions: this week

  • Some key decisions needed to be made this week as we are getting to the end of some of our crop paddocks. Overall the Std. FB and LI. Kale are going to be tight on crop over the next couple of weeks, but the LI FB and Std. Kale are in a better position. Next week we do our first springer draft and will split remaining cows on crop into early and late calvers. The late calving mobs will be combined Std/LI FB or Std/LI Kale for ease of management. We will also be increasing the baleage allocation and reducing the crop to keep stretch the crop out for as long as possible. We have been lucky to purchase some additional baleage which has helped with this decision making.

Figure 1: FB crop paddock and the benefits of back fencing


  • We had budgeted to feed FB till the end of August but with yields ranging from 12 to 18 t DM on the milking platform and 9.4 t DM on the support block, we will finish this sooner than planned. To ensure the late calvers also receive FB till the end of calving, we have slowed down grazing on the FB crop and increased baleage offered to a 50:50 ratio. Although the FB bulbs haven’t grown as much as anticipated this season, we are lucky that the DM% is much higher than expected. We are grazing Feldherr which is classified as a ‘low’ DM variety (normally 12-15%) but you can see the DM% are higher than this in the fortnightly crop measurements table below:

Table 3: Average crop measurements for FB and Kale crops

Row Labels  Average of DM_% Average of CP_%DM Average of ME Average of Ca_% Average of Mg_% Average of P_% Average of K_%
Fodderbeet Forage (Tops) 9.2 20.4 11.0 0.82 0.57 0.31 4.08
Kale, forage 11.0 19.7 12.1 1.54 0.20 0.38 2.82
Mixed Pasture, Haylage/Baleage 27.8 11.9 9.4 0.63 0.15 0.23 1.55
ROOT Fodderbeet (Bulb) 16.6 9.2 14.3 0.12 0.15 0.20 2.17
  • The crops still have approximately 25% leaf which is higher than previous years, most likely driven by the lower bulb yields
  • We have our online Virtual Webinar (as seen in flyer above), Farmer Reference Group meeting, and lots happening on farm next week that we are currently planning for.
  • Looking forward we are finalising the spring feed budget, pasture usage, and spring rotation planners for each farmlet. With our first springer mob draft next week it won’t be long till we are once again dealing with multiple mobs on farm, including springers, colostrums and milkers so we need a robust plan on what paddocks they will be grazing and the feed allocations required.

General Notes:

  • Next week all early calvers and heifers will be run into the shed and receive their rotovac jab and a selenium and B12 injection. All cows will have a BCS measurement and our monitor cows will be bled to look at mineral levels and N partitioning.
  • The behaviour monitored cows will also have their leg bands and cow manager tags removed as we will have completed 5 weeks of monitoring.
  • Our calf sheds are looking fantastic and the renos done in the bobby calf area will be hugely beneficial for the calf rearer this season. All the bedding has been laid and gates swung ready for action.

Figure 2: Calf bedding laid out

Animal Health

  • Ensuring we are meeting the mineral requirements of all mobs is super important leading up to and over calving.
  • We have x7 animals off crop mainly due to lameness, including x5 Std. FB, x1 LI FB and x1 LI Kale.
  • To date this winter we have had x3 confirmed slips in the LI FB, x1 confirmed slip in the LI kale, and x2 suspected slips in the Std. FB.

People Management and Visitors

  • We have employed a full-time calf rearer and a part time helper over the calving period.

Research on-farm

  • We will be removing the behaviour monitoring devices next week. These were applied to measure lying, standing, ruminating and eating time plus walking distance and length of lying bouts. To understand the impact of soil conditions on cow behaviour every day the tech team make a series of measurements to describe the soil conditions in the area the cows have available to them for that 24 hour period. Weather information was also recorded daily. During their late afternoon check of the cows the farm staff also recorded how much baleage and crop were left. Back fences are shifted every day and all groups have the same square metres of area between the front and back fences. 

General Farm Systems Information

The project farm systems comparison has been designed to better understand crop-based wintering in relation to consequences for environmental impact and profit

  • The four herds are split evenly on age, BW / PW, calving date and breed to ensure the herds are as even as possible.
  • Each herd allocated a farmlet corresponding to their herd tag colour Green, Blue, Yellow and Pink.
  • Farmlets have paddocks allocated so each herd has equal walking distance from the shed and the same proportion of each soil type and equal proportions of pastures in the FVI trial (forage value trial – refer web site section on research).

Research Proposals

The SDH welcome research proposals for any sampling or research on the SDH, these are assessed by the Research Advisory Committee (RAC). Just send your request or ask for information via louise.cook@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: